Sunday, January 15, 2012


A Racist Ticket Policy?

Despite a poor start to the season, a defeat and a draw, LionsX11 are still attracting plenty of interest among those who recall the 'good old days' of Malaysia Cup. Over 7,000 filled a newly expanded Jalan Besar Stadium for the opening game with Kelantan while this report suggests ticket sales are going well ahead of the next game against KL.

One though gets my goat. Advance ticket sales are only available to Singaporeans and Permanent Residents. Which means that any casual fan wishing to go to the game, and indeed all home games, will have to hope that there will be ticket sales on the day. And if the poor start continues then it may not be an issue anyway.

Is this policy racism or a sensible security precaution? For example you would never see Liverpool or Manchester United, the two biggest teams in Singapore, limiting ticket sales to UK nationals; there would be an outcry from anti racist groups, and probably Singaporeans as well planning to take in a game.

Even with a new stand, Jalan Besar is a small stadium and there does need to be effective segregation. Singaporeans do have a nationalist element that has an ugly side; ask any Vietnamese who took a slap at the old National Stadium during the AFF Cup semi final back in 2008.

But surely there is a better way of handling advance ticket sales than just banning them to foreigners?

I get plenty of emails, well some, ok, one or two, from people asking for details of how to take in a game in this part of the world. Many folks on round the world trips get through Singapore on their journeys. My first game there was while waiting for a bus to Mersing in Malaysia in 1991. One guy responsible for merchandising sales at one SLeague club says that several replica shirts have been bought by tourists.

I guess the problems just highlights the shoddy way the whole National Stadium has been handled. It was due for demolition, it was postponed, it was delayed and now it's gone but there is still a lengthy wait before Singapore boasts a stadium with a capacity of over 7,000. Apart from anything else they missed out on Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea last year and this year could, if rumours are true, miss Manchester United and Barcelona.

I guess it just comes down to the simple fact that the government don't really give two hoots about sport and hosting the netball world cup is the limit of their ambitions.

The reason why they restrict it to local only is because of 2 cases of matches where there were more fans from the visiting team than the local. The 2 being Singapore vs Japan and Singapore vs China. In this way the football association is doing it so that Singaporean fans get priority in buying tickets. They are not banning foreigners from watching it as the foreigners can still ask their singaporean fans to buy tickets for them. I hope this clarifies the subjective view here.
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